What do you see? What do you hear?

Dear Hearts, according to the calendar most commonly accepted in much of the world, today is New Year’s Day. In my world, it’s also Work-in-Progress Wednesday, which somehow feels appropriate! And a day for the Studio Angels to recover from all the very noisy celebrating in our neighborhood last night!

Here’s what seems real.

My Tree Woman emails are out, with much prayer and huge help from a patient paint sister. That’s one big step forward for 2020! (And a hint in the photo, above!)

There’s a soup pot on the stove. Bird broth. Pulled pork and boar salami. (Really!) Brussels sprouts and arugula. Lots of aromatics. Gorgeous mushrooms.

It’s not hog jowls and collard greens, but it works for us.

IMG_6564The bones of my MotherBoard space now exist in this dimension! This, too, is a huge step forward for 2020 and will make more sense as time goes on. (Really big whiteboard due Friday!)

And, quite probably prompted by an avalanche of emails beating the drums for a major (US) election fundraising deadline, I have been casting about for something to say in this moment. Only one thing made sense.

Please hear, now, the words of the prophet known as The Dangerous Old Woman, probably not for the first time, with ears of this moment.

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

By Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves and Untie the Strong Woman.

Holding Light for the New Year, Sue and Phoebe and Luther

 

 

Wonders Abound!

Not too long ago I was thrilled to be part of an online class led by Sam Bennett of The Organized Artist Company. Sam is one of those people who come to be friends because they’re already friends with people you love and respect.

Sam is also comfortingly quirky which may be why she was teaching a whole herd of artsy types about “Weird Ways”  to earn about $2,000 before the end of 2019!

I learned lots of useful things that have taken root and bloomed in my holiday art markets and in a whole new way of thinking about signs and letting people know how to help make a difference in the world.

I also learned that when we open the door to a bit of newness, MORE has a habit of inviting itself in! It’s one of those energy things.

Here’s what happened next…

On Wednesday, I had lunch with a paint buddy and we took a bit of a field trip to a local boutique art gallery called Wild Oats & Billy Goats. I’ve loved it for years and treasure several things that have followed me home from their fabulously varied collection.

While we were there, I asked if they were looking for new artists.

They were!!!

IMG_6447One thing led to another and, by noon on Friday, I was the newest artist at Wild Oats & Billy Goats!!! (And yes, I’m thrilled!)

For Atlanta area friends, they’re on the Decatur Square and are easy to spot. There’s a herd of metal goat sculptures on the sidewalk!

There’s also an online gallery. I have descriptions to post!!!

A Heart for the World is there, eager to meet you, along with several of her friends.

Then I spent some more time hanging out with Sam yesterday and I have a business name now, too!

The Fiercely Compassionate Artist ®

And a “headshot” (which some of you have seen before) to go with it… a portrait of “Grammy” by my granddaughter, Kenzie!

IMG_4459

All of which feels totally wonder-full.

So does the fact that Bill and I cleaned out and sorted our people-food freezer today. Not as artsy, perhaps. But, a wonder-fully weird way to “earn” money by actually being able to find, and eat, what’s been hiding in there!

Warm food for the Cold or Long Nights Moon which will occur on Thursday, December 12, at 12:12 am ET. Which, as I think about it, is a bit of a wonder, itself!

“You’ve gotta do the things that you pray!”

Jim Morgan is an old friend of mine. The Grace Notes recording artist wrote and sings a song reminding us that, as the title says, we’ve gotta do the things that we pray.

Filed right beside that truth, somewhere in my head, is the old preacher-ism, “You’ve gotta do what you preach!”

The therapist who lurks inside me would chime in with something along the lines of not just “noticing and wondering” about other folks, but also about ourselves.

All of those things, if we’re being honest, get tough sometimes.

Today, though, having survived Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, the Return(s) of Black Friday, an Art Party on Sunday, Cyber Monday, and then a combination of Giving Tuesday and another Art Market, I’m going to give it a try.

I’m going to take care of myself tonight and I’m going to start by taking the rest of the night off!

Just as soon as I share a glimpse of my new greeting cards and some of my favorite words from Shiloh Sophia McCloud on the off chance that you need them, as I do, in this moment:

I am a creative being, not a creative doing, 

and sometimes being creative is allowing myself

to do nothing except the act of dreaming. 

-from The Creative Being Creed, Tea with the Midnight Muse

Here’s to making space for all our dreams… and helping our kids do the same!

(And to getting that huge pot of broth into the fridge.)

 

Two kinds of magic!

Today was magic of the learning and connecting and giving sort, all in the energy cauldron of an Art Party.

The car is still full of boxes and my feet are several blocks past sore but it was a good day.

Tomorrow, it’s time for another sort of magic at our house.

Art, too, I guess. In an energy cauldron of a different sort.

Yes! It’s time for turkey bone broth! And, just in case there might be some bones in your fridge, too, here’s the magic spell.

Trust me… you’ve got this, and you’ll be glad you did!

Really Excellent Turkey Broth…

Makes: 6 – 8 quarts in a 10 – 12 quart stockpot. You can also use this process in an InstantPot. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for settings and time, scaling down your ingredients for the max fill line on your particular pot and being sure to soak raw bones as directed. (Bones that won’t fit will freeze nicely until next time!)

Notes: Consider making a big pot of turkey broth as part of a holiday tradition. It’s a great way to teach the next generations and it smells heavenly. 

I like a very clear turkey broth with a lot of depth that can be used in any number of recipes, so this is what I do. If you have a specific flavor profile in mind, feel free to adjust the herbs and veg as you like. Please resist the temptation to toss all the wilted stuff in your fridge into the pot!

Ingredients: The best stock contains a mixture of roasted and raw bones. Choose yours from the list below.

  • Carcass from ½ a roasted turkey, including some ribs and a wing, with some meat still attached. A leg is also useful if you have one left. Smoked turkey bones will work, too! If you just roasted a turkey breast, use those bones and add bones from a couple of roasted chickens.
  • Any necks, hearts, or gizzards you’ve saved. (Freeze livers separately for dirty rice, etc.)
  • Additional raw bones, about 1-2 lb. necks, backs, wings, etc. (You can use chicken bones, too, if you like.) I particularly like necks for this because they have lots of healing cartilage. Check your local farmer or an international market near you.
  • 3 Tbsp. acidic liquid. I use Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar “with the mother.” White wine or fresh lemon juice will work, too.
  • 3-4 med or large yellow onions, halved, with skins on. (Really!)
  • 3-4 whole garlic bulbs, halved, with paper on.
  • 3-4 fresh bay leaves or 2-3 dried ones.
  • Fresh thyme sprigs. The more the merrier! I use a bundle about the diameter of a quarter, tied with white cotton kitchen string. Add a 4-6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary if you like.
  • Fresh parsley stems, if you happen to have some around. Tie them with the thyme sprigs. 

Place raw bones with any gizzards or hearts into stockpot. Add cold water to cover by 2-3 inches. Add cider vinegar, white wine, or lemon juice. Cover and allow to sit, off the heat, for about 45 minutes. This helps pull the minerals and other goodies out of the bones and into the stock.

After you’ve soaked the raw bones, add the roasted bones to the stockpot.

Add additional cold water, leaving room at the top to add your veg and herbs. Place pot over med. high heat and bring to a very gentle boil.

After pot begins to boil gently, adjust temp to keep it from reaching a full, rolling boil. Skim whatever foam or bits of grey-ish stuff float to the surface and discard. You’ll need to skim every few minutes until it quits creating stuff to skim! (About 10-15 min. total.) This step is important! Skimming helps create a beautiful clear broth and prevents the development of any bitter taste.

While you’re skimming every few minutes, prep your veg and herbs as described above. Leaving the skin/paper on onions and garlic adds to the flavor and color of the broth. (Wipe any dirt from onion skins.) This is one reason I like organic! Try not to do this too far ahead. Onions are best used when they’ve just been cut!

Add your prepped veg and herbs gently so as not to splash yourself.

Turn the heat down to med-low. You want your broth to just simmer gently. No more boiling. It will take some practice with your particular stove to find out what works. Fiddle with it and check frequently. You want itty bitty bubbles just breaking the surface.

Cook for at least 8 hours, and up to 16 or even 24 hours, for a clean flavor with all the nutrients pulled out into the broth. Try not to stir while it cooks. (That can cloud your broth.) You can put on a lid, partially covering the pot, for part of the cooking time to lessen the amount of water that cooks off, making the broth somewhat less concentrated, or leave the lid off and allow it to reduce more, concentrating the flavors. If you put the lid on, you’ll need the turn the heat down to keep it from coming to a boil. Turn the heat up a bit if you take the lid off. We’re still after those itty bitty bubbles!

If you wish to add additional water during cooking to increase the amount of broth, you must use very hot water, about 180-190 F.

Now is the time when you get to inhale the magic while you throw in a load of laundry and go back to your writing, pick up a paint brush, or teach your kids to play Cribbage…

When you’re happy with the color and flavor of the broth, remove from the heat and allow your marvelous creation to cool an hour or two. Scoop all bones and aromatics from the broth and discard them. (They’ve given all they had!) Remember that you’re going to use this broth to add flavor and nutrients to other recipes. Please resist the urge to add salt or adjust seasonings now.

After scooping out bones and so forth from the pot, strain into another container through a fine mesh sieve, being sure to get all the bones. You may use some of the broth immediately, if you care to. Otherwise, chill broth overnight in the fridge. You’ll know you’ve got a great batch if it gets jiggly, like soft Jell-O! (If not, it’s still a miracle! Just keep practicing.)

Transfer chilled broth to quart- and pint-sized plastic containers, (or the sizes that work for you) preferably BPA free. Leave 1 inch headroom, as broth will expand when frozen. Label, including date, and freeze until needed, up to 6 months. I try to thaw frozen broth overnight in the fridge before using. When that isn’t possible, thaw on counter and monitor so that it doesn’t start to warm.

Let the magic begin again!

’twas the night before Thanksgiving…

…and all through the house, all the creatures were stirring. Thanks be for no mouse!

It’s about time to add the magic dry brining potion to the turkey who’s been thawing in the fridge since Monday.

The rice cooker is busily engaged in making wild rice for our pseudo-stuffing rice pilaf, which will be complete with dried pomegranate flavored cranberries, fresh herbs from the garden, and spicy pear sausage from our friend and gracious art supporter, Rusty, at Pine Street Market.

The food processor is waiting on deck to shred the brussels sprouts for roasting tomorrow with Pine Street salt & pepper pork belly, diced Granny Smith apples, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

And there’s homemade bird soup thawing for gravy.

I’ve spent much of the day doing my artist thing. Let’s say that I’m making progress…

IMG_6381We decided to escape some technical aggravations and duck out for a couple of last minute errands, with a stop for lunch at our favorite local spot, The Corner Pub.  I was feeling grateful for friends to cook for us and a fabulous burger (hold the bun!) when I noticed a volunteer delivering this barrel for the holiday community food drive which was a vivid reminder of just how many things we have to be thankful for.

In fact, that’s one of the growing edges on my journey. Intentional gratitude.

Not just at holiday time, but every day.

When I’m writing and painting, certainly.

Or stashing good, local, humanely raised food in the freezer.

Or thinking of family.

Or helping Luther out the back door and down the steps.

In fact, if you’re reading these words, know that I’m grateful for you, too!

And for the community that has supported my growing. (There’s an art party invitation hanging at Corner Pub, too!)

That gratitude makes it easier to live some of my most cherished beliefs in community. Peace. Justice. A safe, clean planet. Helping girls and women to find their voices. Hope.

There are, of course, days that I feel too small and insignificant to make a difference. And then I remember the normal, every-day, cherished people who made differences in my life and I crawl out of my flannel sheet and quilt coccoon, and flap my wings again.

May it be so for us all, in this time.

Blessings to you and yours… 

 

When Wednesday Takes Over The World!

Yes, you guessed it! It’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday again. At the moment, I could use a week of Wednesday!

The day started with a plan. A plan that included the Legendary Husband being somewhere other than where he wound up today, and doing the hunting and gathering thing tomorrow.

Obviously, hunting and gathering shifted to today. Which meant lots of sorting, measuring, ordering, and calling on my part. Nothing terrifying. Just time sensitive.

Then there’s the whole getting ready for an Art Party thing.

Hand knit, felted hats which appeared from the basement, in the process of being fluffed and embellished with flowers. Roses, of course.

Stacks of Giclées waiting to be signed and numbered.

Small WIP prayer dot canvases for Peace and Hope, drying.

And a flurry of activity involved in ordering new batches of art greeting cards from moo.com Pictures to hunt, decisions to make, proofs to check… you get it. All made possible by my wizard friend Leisa who deciphers what I ask for and pushes the buttons to manifest my dreams.

IMG_6295

In between emailing proofs back and forth, Leisa and I had quite the discussion about holiday food and who eats what, or doesn’t. A discussion that was way more fun than the political news!

Long story, short… I now have a recipe for 24 adorable little pecan tarts that is both gluten and corn syrup free. (Leisa is multi-talented!!!)

Just in case you’re curious…

Preheat oven to 350 F.

For crust…

  • 1/2 c. softened butter (In this case, I’d choose salted if you have some.)
  • 3 oz. softened cream cheese, preferably organic
  • 1 1/4 c. gluten-free flour like Measure for Measure from King Arthur  – or all purpose flour if you prefer

For filling…

  • 1 beaten egg, preferably pasture raised
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 T. melted butter, cooled so it won’t scramble the egg!
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans (plus more for garnish, if desired)

Place flour in mixing bowl or bowl of food processor. Cut butter and cream cheese in with forks or pulse until small crumbs form, as you would for pie crust. Pat/roll into a 4×6 inch rectangular shape. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for 1 hour.

Mix filling well with wisk or food processor.

Cut chilled dough into 24 equally sized pieces and press pieces into mini muffin tins. These are called Tassie pans at our house! (If you like crispy tart shells, you may blind bake empty shells for 5 – 7 min. or until very lightly browned.)

Fill each cup half full of filling mix. Garnish each tart with pecan 1/2 if desired.

Bake about 20 min.

Cool to room temp before removing from pans and serving.

Please let me know what you think!!! For now… back to Wednesday and lots more WIP’s!

Tomorrow… my piece of the Red Thread is volunteering at an Atlanta rally for Bernie Sanders. I’m sure photos will be involved!

 

 

 

 

 

Come to the Table

Who knew what a gift it could be to sort out the basement??? (Okay, Marie Kondo apparently did!)

We’ve already delivered a car load of donations to Second Life Thrift Store, near Atlanta, where the proceeds go to benefit animal rescue organizations and spay/neuter programs.

Another big box has gone to a neighborhood family who support a literacy program for children of immigrant families, with more on the way.

Some of the stuff above is on its way to the Mission Haven clothes closet at Columbia Theological Seminary just down the road, and there are more clothes to pack up. (Dave and I wore Mission Haven clothes back in the day!) And the boxes of fabric for kids’ quilts are looking for a home.

A couple of hours ago, I got a surprise. Well, two surprises.

First, a cardboard box Bill brought up from the basement was correctly (!!!) labeled Cookbooks. Not generally things I send to the basement.

Then, I found this particular church cookbook:

IMG_6284

Talk about memory lane!

Back in 1999, when I was editor of Monday Morning magazine, I wrote an editorial titled Come to the Table, which found its way to the chair of the cookbook committee who asked for permission to reprint my words…

Some folks collect coins or stamps or baseballs or shoes. I’ve got a thing for tables. I painted a table not long ago. It has wild colors and quotes from many of my favorite folks all over it. It sits in the room where I write and pray and ponder. The coffee table in our living room is an antique claw-footed bathtub with a quilt draped in it and a piece of glass on top.

My very favorite table, though, is one I don’t own. In fact, this “table” is actually a huge hunk of granite that sits deep in the catacombs of a Catholic church in Hungary. I “met” this table in the late ’80’s,  just before the Berlin Wall fell. I was traveling with a group from Columbia Seminary. An English-speaking priest gave us a tour, taking us down flight after flight of steep stone stairs. It was cold, dark, and unfamiliar.

Finally we gathered in a tiny room where the priest explained that the Eucharist had been celebrated there, on that “table,” every day for 1,500 years. Every day! It didn’t matter who occupied Hungary at the time, or what they called the nation. It didn’t matter whether religion was illegal or merely ignored. Still folks came to claim power beyond that which seemed to rule their world.

I just had to touch that table. It should have been rough and cold, but, instead, it was warm and polished by all the countless hands that had lifted bread from it and poured wine over it. Every day. For 1,500 years.

Now, I know that many of you have different traditions, and today is perhaps an ironic day to be reflecting on this, at least in the USA, but I am reminded again of the power of the table throughout the world.

And, especially at this time of year, so many of us are pondering what to put on our tables for family celebrations. It seems to have gotten more complicated lately! In fact, I wrote a book about feeding the families we have, who often don’t eat the same things as we do.

The book is packed with recipes I inherited or developed or learned from dear ones. Lots of them are pretty fabulous! The part that still feels most important to me, though, is the discussion on holiday meal planning which begins, as so many things in my world do, with a question.

What are you trying to accomplish???

I come from a family of foodies. These days, when our family gathers, we have a collection of omnivores, pescatarians, some gluten free folks, others with allergies, and a much loved diabetic who’s doing way better lately. And that’s just six of us! There are also the studio angels, who have definite opinions about these things.

My answer to what we are trying to accomplish is that everybody feels included and nobody is eating things they feel badly about because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.

It’s a lot like Intentional Creativity®!!!

Just between us, I have no idea how that will translate into food this year. I’m oddly okay with that. And grateful for our nearby International Farmers Market where darn near anything is possible.

I’m pretty sure, though, that really good dark chocolate will be involved! And, possibly, collard greens.

What about you???

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher